Sheriff court jury trials have restarted in Scotland with juries sitting remotely in cinemas.
It follows the success of reopening the high courts, using a remote jury model which utilised empty Odeon cinemas.
Seven sheriff courts – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ayr, Paisley, Kilmarnock, Hamilton and Airdrie – are now running jury trials, with the jury sitting in Odeon cinemas in Edinburgh, Glasgow Quay, Ayr, Braehead and East Kilbride.
In a bid to tackle the backlog of cases caused due to lockdown, more sheriff courts will restart over the next few weeks.
On January 25, Dundee Sheriff Court will restart solemn trials linked up to the nearby Odeon.
On February 8, Inverness will restart with a remote jury sitting at the Eden Court complex, while Aberdeen high and sheriff courts will recommence on February 15 with a remote jury at the city’s Vue cinema.
Later in February, courts in Falkirk, Kirkcaldy and Perth will restart jury trials linked to jury centres at Dunfermline and Dundee Odeons.
In addition, Greenock and Dumbarton will restart jury trials linking to the remote jury centre at the Odeon Braehead.
This will complete the resumption of jury trials in every sheriffdom in Scotland.
David Fraser, executive director of court operations at the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, said: “We recognise the concern and impact on the accused, victims and witnesses of any further delay in jury trials.
“The remote jury centres were designed to operate during Covid, ensuring jury trials can continue while restrictions are in place.
“The jury centres are large ventilated spaces, with physical distancing for jurors at all times, and are fully equipped with all the necessary precautions of face coverings, hand washing facilities and sanitisers.
“While we know that there are concerns at this time, we have strictly followed Public Health Scotland’s guidance to make these new centres as safe as possible.
“Having juries remote from courts enables physically distanced trials to proceed with the same health, safety and security measures available to all court users.”